Fraudster convicted of online banking thefts using… whatever the hell this thing is

Ingenious device, or fake bomb from 1980s cop movie?


Brit cops have put away a fraudster who was using a bizarre homemade device to con people out of the contents of their bank accounts.

London's Metropolitan Police said this week that 53-year-old Tony Muldowney-Colston (who also goes by Tony Colston-Hayter) has admitted to nine counts of possession of an article for use in fraud and two counts of making or supplying an article for use in fraud. He has been sentenced to 20 months in prison.

One of those devices was this… thing. A home-built mixture of what looks to be AV equipment and a couple numerical input devices.

Fraud device seized by police

Police assure us this is a working device and not a stage prop
Click to enlarge

Police say Muldowney-Colston was using the device to impersonate banks in order to steal customer accounts, but doesn't go as far as to explain how that worked.

The Telegraph has a bit more detail, explaining that the device altered Muldowney-Colston's voice to allow him to impersonate people of various ages and genders. For example, he could change his voice to pretend to be a female bank official when trying to harvest account details from customers.

Aside from the odd voice machine, a raid of the man's home yielded more than 100 pieces of evidence, including a hard drive containing deals on passports, ID cards, credit cards, and a spreadsheet with names and contact information for targets.

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The scheme seemed to work well enough; cops estimate Muldowney–Colston made off with about £500,000 by the time he was caught.

This isn't Muldowney-Colston's first brush with the law, to say the least. A known con-man who was convicted for stealing £1.3m from Barclays in 2014, he also gained notoriety in the late 80s for organizing raves and was known as the 'King of Acid House' at one point.

"The scam carried out by Muldowney–Colston affected hundreds of people across the UK, and had the potential to affect many more. He is an audacious criminal who only recently was released from prison for carrying out very similar offences," Met Police Detective Inspector Philip McInerney said.

"This should send a clear message to anyone considering committing crimes of this nature that we have the tools and methods to identify you and bring you to justice." ®

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